Mental Health Resources for College Students During COVID-19

All across the globe, people have been impacted one way or another this past year by the COVID-19 virus. Months of social separation, canceled events, and numerous life changes that no one could have predicted have affected people to varying degrees. While states have different rules in terms of gatherings and reopenings, it is important to consider that isolation and changes are still occurring. 

Each age group seems to face its own set of unique challenges; children growing up in a different world, middle-aged parents struggling to find that balance of working from home and homeschooling their children, and members of the elderly community unable to see their family or leave their living facilities. College students are among these groups, not only facing a shift in their schooling but also preparing to find a career in a world unrecognizable to us compared to just a few years ago. Many graduating seniors may be looking at how to enter the ‘real world’ that has changed so drastically from just a year ago, which is something we could not have prepared for. 

Photo: Caiti McGowan / The Voice

Many students have had to face a shift in how their schooling operates. For example, transitioning from traditional on-campus, in-person classes and lectures to either a limited version of this, a hybrid course, or a fully online course. At this point, many students seem to have a mix of formats. This change has proved to be challenging for many, causing an abrupt change in their lifestyle. They are now more isolated from their friends, peers, and professors than before. Many have faced changes in terms of employment, whether they transitioned into working from home or faced unemployment because of COVID-19. Extra-curricular activities such as theater and athletics have to come to a halt. Students are attempting to face a new normal. 

Unsurprisingly, states of mental health have worsened in the students of many colleges because of the drastic changes and pain this past year has brought. Luckily, there are many resources out there to be utilized during this unfamiliar time. This list from BestColleges provides resources for online learning, college planning, mental health, and more. Handshake has provided a great list of resources as well, with things such as moving help, how to get affordable internet access, and financial assistance. A list of mental health services can be found on the Oregon Health Authority’s website, and a list designed for college students can be found here from the Center of Online Education. 

Additionally, Eastern Oregon University has supplied its students with resources of their own during this strange time. This past year, EOU’s Counseling Center has been able to offer telehealth appointments for students through Zoom. Drop-In Support Groups for EOU Students during COVID-19 are also being held on Mondays from 1:30-2:30 PM and Thursdays from 10 -11 AM PST, where peers can discuss any challenges or struggles that they may be facing together through this unprecedented time. Last year, EOU Counselors and licensed psychologists Dr. Marianne Weaver and Dr. Adam Lofti began a video series called ‘Counselors in Quarantine’, which discusses mental health-related topics such as  “3 Ways To Think About and Manage Anxiety” and “Boundaries and Self-Care”. You can find all of these videos as well as an extensive list of self-help resources, here. For more information, you can also check out this article that was written by Tabitha Compton for The Voice last spring.

As a fully online student of three years, I am lucky enough to say that school is not an aspect of my life that has drastically changed this past year, as it has been for some of my peers. With this experience under my belt, I will list a few beneficial tips and tricks that I try to implement in my life to help support my mental health and well-being.

  • Create a daily routine/schedule
  • Find time to meditate and/or journal
  • Maintain physical exercise
  • Spend time in nature
  • Use technology to your advantage, but know when to take a break from it
  • Give yourself time to be creative
  • Keep in touch with friends and loved ones (virtually or safely in person)
  • Go easy on yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help

It is important to recognize that these changes in life have brought positive aspects to many students as well. The increased amount of free time has allowed people more time alone to try new hobbies and discover new interests. Students may have even discovered that they work well alone, and have increased amounts of academic productivity. Additionally, technology has been well utilized through virtual socialization that allows us to keep up with friends and family through messaging and video chats. The reminder that everyone is going through some sort of change during this past year can be a comforting feeling to know that we are not alone. 

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